Says terrorism by Pak a fiction created by India.

 

New Delhi: With the FATF coming up in February to decide whether Pakistan stays on the grey list or moves to the black list, the Pakistan government, in a desperate attempt, is banking on a private report by a Brussels-based organization to claim that it does not have any terror network inside the country and all the reports by multiple intelligence agencies, including that of India, proving the presence of multiple terror networks in the country, are fiction created by the Indian State.

Rahman Malik, former Pakistan minister and the present chairman of the Pakistani senate standing committee on interior, wrote to FATF President Dr Marcus Pleyer on 25 January, asking him to withdraw Pakistan’s name from the FATF grey list, while giving the reason that all the claims made by the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and France, countries that had moved the motion to blacklist Pakistan in February 2018, were based on “propaganda” being carried out by India. The crucial FATF plenary that will decide whether Pakistan goes into the “black list”, which will make it virtually impossible for it to receive foreign funding from global institutions and discourage global investors from dealing with the financial institutions of the country, will be held from 22 February to 25 February.

Malik, to buttress his claim, had quoted a research report released by “EU Disinfolab”, a Brussels-based non-government group, which in a report released on 9 December 2020, had claimed to have unearthed a 15-year-long “disinformation campaign targeting international institutions and serving Indian interests”, which was done primarily through resurrecting “dead media, dead think-tanks and NGOs”.

EU Disinfo lab in its “research”, however, had found no links to tie this supposedly 15-year-long “operation” to the Indian government or to any other Indian agency.

It is pertinent to mention that Pakistan was put on the FATF list in June 2018 after the United States along with United Kingdom, Germany and France moved the motion against Pakistan in February 2018 stating that the Pakistani state agencies were working in tandem with jihadi groups and supporting them to move illicit money to be used for terror across the world through a hawala network. The motion was moved after US agencies monitoring Pakistan had found irrefutable evidence that suggested that despite saying to the contrary, Pakistan government agencies (officials employed with its spy agency, ISI in particular) were actively supporting the Taliban and Haqqani network to arrange funding.

An official with one of the four Western countries, which had moved the FATF seeking action against Pakistan, termed Pakistan government’s action of using a report prepared by a private group (referring to EU Disinfo lab) to claim innocence in front of the FATF as “incredulous”.

“The FATF, for the past one decade, has been monitoring Pakistan. We have been monitoring the activities going down there for much longer. Neither the FATF’s observation nor our findings are based on the contents generated by some ‘disinformation’ campaign. There exists undeniable proof, money trails that prove how Pakistani agencies are diverting money, which is ending up with the Haqqanis, Taliban and other jihadi groups like Jaish-e-Mohammed and NGOs affiliated to Lashkar (Lashkar-e-Tayyaba). The same money is being used to target our troops and Afghan security people”, the official told The Sunday Guardian. FATF had first mentioned Pakistan as a centre of money laundering and terror financing on 16 October 2008. Then in June 2012 it was put on grey list, where it stayed till February 2015, before it again joined the list in June 2018. “It appears that the Pakistani establishment doesn’t take FATF seriously enough. When they are put on the ‘grey list’, Pakistani policymakers start taking steps to exhibit how serious they are when it comes to combating terror. However, once they come out of the list, the same establishment starts strengthening these terror groups. This explains why Pakistan keeps coming in and out of the grey list,” an official with an Indian anti-terror agency told The Sunday Guardian.

The Sunday Guardian reached out to the FATF press team with the following queries:

  1. Will the FATF, while arriving at any decision concerning Pakistan, take into consideration the letter written by Mr Malik?
  2. We are given to understand, as per the policy documents available publicly, that FATF has its own set of mechanisms to investigate how each country is dealing with terror financing. In this context, is not the letter sent by a senior sitting Pakistan senator, who has also been a minister, an attempt to bring undue influence on FATF?

However, no response was received from the FATF till the time the story went to print.

Official sources in the newly appointed Joe Biden administration in the US, on the other hand, reiterated that the Biden administration would be “stricter” than his predecessor on the topic of global terror financing emanating from any country, including Pakistan.

Indian officials, when reached for their comments on the topic, stated that the FATF, from its own channels, that included field visits, had gathered enough proof to realise the extent of global terror financing that was happening with the connivance of Pakistan-based institutions. “FATF is not an Indian body that it will take decisions on the basis of what we want; it is a global body, with a well-established system. It has given a long rope to Pakistan so far despite the country, without even intending to hide it, giving a sanctuary to entities like Jaish, Lashkar, Haqqani, Taliban and Hizbul,” an official with a security agency said, while pointing to Pakistan’s statement at the FATF last year that Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar had gone “missing” despite it being public knowledge that Azhar was very much in Pakistan under the protection of ISI. As per the UNSC proscribed list, more than 300 banned individuals and entities are based in Pakistan, the maximum in South Asia and just below Iraq, globally, where ISIS’ affiliated individuals and entities are functional.

“The FATF needs to take action on the basis of proof it already has or member countries will start losing faith in it,” a Home Ministry official told The Sunday Guardian.

As per rules, Pakistan needs the support of 12 countries to exit the “grey list” and the support of three countries to stay away from “black list”. These three countries are likely to be China, Turkey and Malaysia.